Ambassador to US: Latvia still at serious risk of being put on "gray list"

Latvia's ambassador to the United States of America, Andris Teikmanis, warned December 19 that Latvia's attempts to improve the international reputation of its banking sector still were not complete and the risk of being put on a damaging "gray list" of high-risk countries for financial transactions remained real.

Speaking on LTV's Morning Panorama news show, Teikmanis said there remains a risk that Latvia will not fully implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe's Moneyval department for the prevention of money laundering in good time.

Doing so might result in Latvia being put on the Moneyval "Gray list" which could complicate international transactions to and from the country and have a knock-on effect of exports and the wider economy.

"This is a very serous theme, first of all for ourselves" Teikmanis said.

"These Moneyval recommendations have to be implemented within half a year - that is an extremely short period. The next government will have to treat it with the utmost seriousness and do all that is possible and even impossible to ensure that the recommendations are met and all is put in order in Latvia's banking system."

"If that doesn't happen then we really risk being put on the gray list. If your credit card is not accepted in Germany, it will be the smallest of the results. Our exports run the risk of being reduced, because it will simply be a more difficult transaction to pay suppliers. It would have a very significant effect on our entire economy," said Teikmanis.

"The risk remains high," he warned.

As previously reported by LSM, Latvia's banking sector has been battered by a series of massive money-laundering scandals perpetrated over more than a decade. Officials have been scrambling to improve matters, but the job is far from complete.

Among the measures taken is the production of a regular newsletter outlining decisions taken. You can read the newsletters at the government website.  

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